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Opeth - Heritage CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.82 | 1219 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars After Opeth's front man's announcement of them removing death metal elements to their sound, it left not only hardcore and casual fans intrigued of their future music, but also music listeners who cannot stand the iconic deep growls yet enjoy the musicality of the band.

Given the band's decision and their non-metal sections introducing acid rock, 70s prog rock, and jazz-fusion (as opposed to their older acoustic folk passages), the album is not that surprising to me. Despite lack of death metal elements, the atmosphere and songwriting continues being unmistakeably Opeth. Not to say that the music is predictable or lacks surprises, but this is not as much of a shift in personality as some would have expected. You have here an album full of terrific sections. The experimentation is both a strength and a weakness. The strength is the inspired, virtuosic musicianship and the abundance of terrific passages of music. The main weakness is that the structure of songs are loose, resulting in some awkward transitions and odd dynamics. While this keeps elements of surprise and mystery, sometimes you wish more proper climax and conclusions to songs. Another weakness is Mikael's singing which sounds strangely detached at times, as if there's more technicality and less raw emotion.

It begins with a piano instrumental accompanied with a bass guitar. The single "Devil's Orchard" has all the strengths and none of the weaknesses, making it my favorite song in the album. The vocal sections are memorable, the riffs complex, and the twists and turns exciting. It includes a hypnotic instrumental section and a fitting climax led by a guitar solo.

"I Feel The Dark" starts with an acoustic motif and is folkier in nature. A dark, mysterious instrumental section with outstanding percussion follows. A church organ interrupts and the theme is revisited with a heavy metal riff and soaring vocals. An undeniably fantastic moment. However, this climax is in the middle of the song and the rest seems to have less direction.

"Slither" is an unusual song for Opeth as it sounds more like the band Rainbow or Deep Purple with its driving 70s hard rock guitar riffs and stabbing hammond organs. While the acoustic outro has the haunting mood that is typical of Opeth, this song would have worked better as a bonus track. The upbeat and short "The Lines in My Hand" has some of Mikael's most detached vocals I've ever heard from him. My wife believed I was listening to Nickelback during this song. Instrumentally it's still Opeth, but this could have been another bonus track.

"Nepenthe" is as strange as its name applies. It is a jazz-fusion track driven by meditative percussion in a very slow tempo. The vocals are brief yet leave a very good impression. The highlight is a funky synthesizer riff reminiscent of King Crimson and Gentle Giant. The wailing guitar solos are also impressive. The vocal melody returns and the song just stops. It feels like it could have been more if they made it longer.

"Hax Process" is extremely minimalistic in the first two minutes with its simplistic mournful melodies. Suddenly an upbeat acoustic riff bring the song into a dynamic progressive rock song. The last segment is a weeping guitar solo played over a meandering bass line. This is a very proper ending and it is incredibly beautiful.

"Famine" has a very fragmented structure and sounds more like musical ideas crammed together. It is a shame because these ideas are very very good. The tribal percussion in the intro gets inexplicably cut off by a piano (?). A loud electric guitar riff fades in over that piano (?). Luckily the second half makes more sense with some surprisingly good falsetto singing and a doom metal riff with aggressive flute.

The psychedelic first half of "Folklore" has processed vocals, mellow guitar riffs and natural dynamics. The song transitions well into a mix of themes that gradually progress into an restrained yet fitting climax to an album that is restrained in itself. What is interesting about this climax is that it actually sounds positive, one of the main surprises of the album for me. "Marrow of the Earth" is a very pleasant instrumental conclusion.

Be sure to pay close attention to the intricate detail of the musicianship. The bass and drums are particularly breathtaking and the keyboardist steals the show with his wide variety of very organic (never digital) sounds.

Zitro | 4/5 |


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